One: Signs

Signs of spring, hope, new directions

Signs of spring are peeking out from under the heavy mantle of snow bordering the path to my creative haven. Mostly they show up in the warmer sunshine and the dripping icicles. Soon, we will be able to see the bags of leaves around the firepit once more. There is hope.

Signs are clear

signs of spring, hope, light in the darkness
Frozen drips. Ice forming.

Even in the darkness of the hour in which so many have chosen to panic, hope resides. We can learn from this trial as we can learn from any challenge. Indeed, a revision of our priorities as the most powerful population on Earth, is long overdue. Signs are clear: humanity is not in control. At best we can choose to be better stewards of the planet’s treasures.

A common enemy unites

signs of the times, bags of leaves, hope,
Sacks of leaves peeking out.

Another shard of light in the gloom is our shared awareness of commonality. As is often the case, a common enemy shows signs of uniting us. We are all vulnerable. Some more than others. A common caring inspires hope from Italian balconies and the internet has become an ally. While some try to exploit the uncertainty, most focus on caring for each other.

Signs of new life

signs, firewood, melting, hope
Firewood ready for spring.

Long ago I received a mandate to live one day at a time and be good to myself. Today is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and we plan to go for a ride. A beautiful park awaits us. A walk is in the offing. Hope fills the air as the excited chirping of birds heralds the mating season and signs of new life. All is well and all will be well.

Contact using hand signs

signs, melting, spring, hope
Drips frozen in a tower.

In the meantime, I will keep my distance. My outings to the grocery store may reduce to once every two weeks. Contact for friends and family will remain in the virtual realm or by using hand signs. Consequently, it may become more frequent. Hope remains. This too shall pass.

New beginnings

purging, hope, renewal, signs
Deciding what to do.

While all exhibitions in the near future have been cancelled or postponed, I will focus on reorganizing my studio. Experimenting with new ideas, exploring different possibilities, all is possible for now. The now is ripe with hope and signs of new beginnings.

Sharing signs of hope

In the hope of the now, do take care of yourself and your loved ones. Stay home. Pray for those on the front lines. Find ways to brighten another’s day. Inspire hope in the hopeless with a smile and a calm assurance that all will be well. In fact, the signs indicated we may choose to make it better!

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One: Mission

creative, collaboration, dreaming, events, VASA member show,

“If science, like art, is to perform its mission truly and fully…its achievements must enter not only superficially but with their inner meaning into the consciousness of people.” Albert Einstein, opening of 1939 New York World’s Fair. Cited in “World of Tomorrow”, National Geographic p.19, March 2020

Missing my mission

Perhaps that is what is lacking. It seems I cannot express my mission well enough for its inner meaning to enter into the consciousness of those viewing my work.

A new cosmic story

We live in a fractured world. For one thing, we have lost a vision beyond our puny self-importance and the immediate satiation of personal desires. Our outlook has diminished to myopic insecurity. As Thomas Berry suggested, we need a new story. A cosmic story could carry us beyond ourselves into a new world of possibilities and mission.

A selfish mission

Fractures began to show up with the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. They were tiny at the time. Almost impossible to see. However, slavery officially ended as more people saw it for what it was. Yet it shows up today, covertly, in the form of human trafficking. The powerful continue to exploit the poor in their mission for more wealth.

Corporate mission

Fractures grow wider with each passing year, month, day. Climate change, rabid exploitation of natural resources, extinction of numerous species and the plight of migrating populations seeking peace and a livelihood, illustrate a few of the obvious fractures. There are others. For example, the quiet escape of methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the melting permafrost. I recall having read an article about how dangerous chemicals and hazardous waste have been safely stored in the cold for decades. Now what? Might be a new mission for corporate producers.

My mission

mission, neomosaic, semiabstract,
“Evolution/Évolution” 36x30in on gallery wrap canvas $1728.00

I record random fractures in my images. My mission is to disturb. Most evident in the skies, the fracturing disturbs the pristine. The warning touches the soul and misses the consciousness. Consequently, few notice the implications. While we disrupt the natural balance of our world, we deny responsibility. As a result, we move closer to a point of no return. Change must happen for us to survive. So too, millions of other life forms depend on a well-functioning planet Earth.

A circular economy

Thankfully, a few with power are responding. No, I don’t mean the politicians. I mean scientific solutions proposed by major companies such as those supporting publications like the National Geographic. At least their ads suggest a new mission promoting a brighter future and the promise of a circular economy. “The End of Trash”, Susan Goldberg, editor. 6 March 2020. 

Science leads the way

Yet hope springs eternal. I hope the meaning behind my art touches the hearts and minds of those who view it. May they be inspired to act, to take on a new mission, a new direction. Furthermore, may science provide a path of healing for our fracturing world. In addition, our leaders may engage in a cooperative effort to create a new sustainable vision for future generations. In any case, the planet will evolve with or without us. And all will be well.

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One: Move

move, neomosaicpainting, semiabstractflorals, mixedmedia

Some artists move to different locations perceived to be more open to art. One young artist I know moved to New York so she would not need to explain her work to the general public. Then she moved again to a soul inspiring place away from the rush.

Longing to move

Today I feel like moving. I would love to sell my work. I do not see much of a market here. The grass looks greener elsewhere. Having moved forty times in my lifetime, I know the grass is just as green here as anywhere. And I really do not want to move again, ever.

Silent Auction

So why the sudden urge to move elsewhere? Well, I made a mistake. I said “yes”. Unfortunately, I did not ask questions and I agreed to what I thought was a live auction in a different location. The event turned out to be a silent auction to a crowd not at all interested in art. My painting sold for one hundred and twenty-five dollars leaving me bereft of consolation. Is it really worth that much? Do my paintings lower the value of the materials I use? And is the charity really that worthless as an organisation?

My next move

I am angry. Yet I have no one to blame but myself. However, the little matter of insult to injury will take me a week to put aside. That is my next move. I will not pick up a brush until I have recuperated. At that time, I will finish the painting with the appropriate coats of varnish and deliver it. The customer will not be happy. It would bother me if I believed she is truly ignorant of what she has done.

Integrity

The next question is why bother finishing and delivering it? That is a matter of integrity. Mine. I will fulfill my obligations and then move forward. Hopefully, in the future,  I will ask more questions. So, no more silent auctions. I prefer bonfires or cutting a cheque and keeping the painting.

Do check out my ongoing shows and the upcoming Open Studio event in April.

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One: Words

mists, words, neomosaicpainting

Quite a few years ago now, I wrote my first memoirs in the endeavour to overcome some serious personal limitations. The title of this work was “I Live with a Giant Squid”, nothing to do with my husband by the way. It described the destructive power of words and the worlds of terror they can create.

A child’s chant

Beginning with the child’s chant “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” I sorted through the shreds of my understanding about why I remained a victim. After so many years of adulthood I was still not functioning as a healthy adult.

Gentle words create healing spaces

Many more years later I credit the gentle, loving words of my husband for rebuilding my world. His persistent encouragement created a safe place for me to rant and eventually to live. Abuse is never easily overcome. And I have written another memoir concentrating on the miracles of life “New Life: miracle watching and other pastimes”. My Christmas gift for my children and grandchildren, my hope is to inspire hope, for everything is possible with God.

Denial

Recently I met someone who does not entertain the idea of destructive words. In fact, according to this person’s observation we have entered a new era in which a great cleansing is taking place. Following this train of thought, we can utter any “truth” we may believe without considering the person receiving the message. After all, it is his or her responsibility to receive it well without allowing their own personal trauma to cloud the issue. Consequently, in this new world of “truth”, there is no need to apologize for the hurt our words may cause. In fact, the more the better. Let us be rid of our former suppressions. 

Healing words

Unfortunately, this understanding renders healing next to impossible. The recent Truth and Reconciliation councils held here and in South Africa used a proven course of action. By providing a safe space where one can express his/her pain with the possibility of receiving an apology, healing becomes possible. Ho’oponopono, the Hawaiian practice of forgiveness, goes further with the idea we can take on the pain of our environment and cleanse it with mindful words of love, remorse, forgiveness and thankfulness.

Power of words

Words are powerful. They can be used for healing and for hurting. Our truth may not be the whole truth. Careful choice of phrase can build bridges or cause wars. Choosing love, patience and a listening stance is the best way to create a healing space, room enough for personal trauma and growth.

Healing words

May the healers in this world of ours continue to use healing words and listening ears. May we all be ready to forgive and apologize for the benefit of all.

Do check out my events page for the latest show coming up soon at VASA!

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One: Biodiversity

“The single biggest heresy that allows us to misinterpret the scriptural tradition is individualism, revealed now in the problems we are facing with climate change, pollution, the loss of biodiversity, and the extinction of many species.”  Richard Rohr “Daily Meditations” 7 February 2020

Interdependent biodiversity

Current campaign from Development and Peace

We are so in trouble. The rampant individualism of our society is blinding us to the truth of our interdependence. Consequently, what happens to rainforest in South America is irrelevant we say. Climate change is just a hoax. Does every beetle matter? Who cares if another butterfly dies as long as I get my coffee? Biodiversity is not such a big deal anyway. Pick the best and get rid of the rest.

Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon

Since we have no idea what that beetle does to contribute to the balance on our planet, we have trouble picking. Which is the best? We have been trying to figure that out for centuries, justifying ethnic cleansing whenever it suited our agenda. We are at it again. Biodiversity reigns in the Amazon. Fifty percent of all living creatures, plants and animals live in Amazonia, an area about the size of Australia. It also produces twenty percent of the Earth’s fresh water which we are happily polluting with mines and oil fields. Do you know in which country most of those extraction companies are based? Canada.

Invisible guardians

Jeremias Oliviera of the Mura people, Brazil

As we relax in the comfort of our “better” half of the world, we can watch the Amazon burn. In the name of progress and the accumulation of more wealth, we watch. While those who guard and nurture the biodiversity of this unique place are being isolated, demonized or worse, killed, we watch. Thirty million people live in Amazonia, the invisible guardians of the forest. Like our own native peoples, they are standing up and saying “no” to the mass destruction of Mother Nature for profit.

Do our investments support biodiversity?

Yesica with some cocoa pods.

Maybe one thing we could do is to verify which companies our investments support, if we have investments. Money talks. At the end of the day what is more important? The dividend that helps us buy our box of chocolate or the biodiversity necessary for the sustainability of the cocoa tree? Do we want our great-grandchildren to know what chocolate tastes like? Maybe the pharmaceutical companies should get involved. Much of their wealth is based in the plants unique to the Amazon region. 

Other helpful doings

Donating to the cause, signing petitions and holding our government to account for their complicity, praying and supporting organizations which educate and empower the local people to defend not only the biodiversity but their way of life, might be other avenues of assistance. Perhaps together we will be able to repair some of our fractured world.

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One: Control

All it takes is one little germ. One cannot even see this tiny leveler of the mighty. I had it all under control last week. Until Wednesday. Then I disappeared.

Out of Control

Someone on Facebook mentioned she did not think I could afford the time to be sick. Quite right. I had not planned for this. I need four more paintings in less than three weeks. Make that two weeks. Sigh. I am definitely not in control.

Surrendering control

So how does one cope when the unidentified intruder comes in and messes up my metabolism? In the past I fought it tooth and nail. Nothing would be beyond my control. Those nice liquid cold pills work well, don’t they? Perhaps not. I looked at the past year and thanked God for all the wellness I had enjoyed. I decided to go the non-violent route to see how that played out.

Still managing control

control within chaos, neomosaic painting, semiabstract landscape,
Almost finished

Wednesday morning, I managed a conference call and I organized the paperwork for the Condo Board AGM that night. That seemed under control. Then, surrendering to my body, I went to bed. Slept all morning. My husband made lunch, I looked and the computer, surrendered again and went back to bed. We ate leftovers for supper before heading off to the meeting where I took the minutes. I wrote them up before hitting the sack once more and slept all night.

Surrender

Thursday morning, another conference call, feeling much worse and totally out of control. We cancelled all plans. I stayed in bed most of the day, watched a movie on television and reacquainted myself with the reason why we do not watch television. I had forgotten about commercials. Went to bed. I did not have the energy for anything but surrender.

Some improvement

control, ready to varnish, neomosaicpainting, semiabstract landscape,
Four ready to varnish

Friday, I had hoped would be better. It was, marginally. Considering my options, I decided I had enough energy to sneak out to my studio and finish off the varnishing for the first four paintings of the year. In between bed and eating, I did just that. Was it enough to regain control of my schedule? I will let you know by mid-February. One thing for sure, I was feeling much better. Saturday, I felt well enough in fact to put in a full studio morning. Just in the nick of time too. I start getting withdrawal symptoms when I leave my brushes idle for too long.

Back in control?

In summary, my choice to allow myself to heal proved to be wise. I regained control of my health in record time. Would I visit my granddaughter again if I could redo my week? Certainly. She is more important than my schedule even if she shares her germs. Do check out the Glenrose show, or the Edmonton Convention Centre, or the dining room at St. Joe’s College on UofA Campus. Coming soon: DEVENIR at VASA for the month of March

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One: Props

neomosaic painting, exhibition, checklist, finished
“Autumn Doubloons 1” 30x30in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Our humanity presents us with certain limitations. I find as I am growing older, the tasks I used to do without thinking are getting more complex. As memory fails me or physical ability lacks, I have need to use props.

Props are essential

Props, neomosaic painting
“Autumn Doubloons 2” 30x30in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Props have become quite essential especially when I am under the pressure of a time limit. The finishing stage of my process requires a multitude of little doings I do not always remember. To combat this lack of efficiency, I embarked on the creation of a checklist. And at this point, I must admit there are times when I love computers.

Props are easy with computers

props, checklist, complete, neomosaic painting, mixed media, DEVENIR
“Thistles” 40x40in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $2560.00

My first attempt at the checklist contained about eight items or less. The reason I love computers is their capacity for changing lists. I do come from an age when ribbons needed changing on typewriters and one had to be one hundred percent accurate the first time. Never happened. Props, to be useful, must be accurate.

The checklist

Still room for more

With only eight items I could place three checklists on a page. Three paintings done. With the first round I printed a couple of pages. As I worked towards finishing a painting, I noticed I had forgotten a few things. I grabbed a pencil an inserted the missing items. Now my list numbered about twelve. My props were getting closer to perfection. As I continued, I added a few more.

Adjustments are necessary

As a result, things were getting complicated. In order to keep three on a page I needed to adjust the spacing and I may as well put them in order of task. Since then I have discovered my order of task varies with the situation. For instance, I may put a wire on the smaller canvases early in order to hang them on the easel. I have also discovered my props are very useful.

Props help the work get done

props, neomosaic painting, mixed media, deadlines, exhibitions
“Harvest” 40x40in neomosaic/mixed media on gallery wrap canvas $2560.00

Just yesterday, as I was photographing the four paintings I had “finished”, I noticed one edge had not been completed. Laughing I picked up my props to find out what else had been left out. Sure enough four other items. All is well as I turn my attention to the other four paintings I need for the show in March.

Check out the latest

Do check out my events page to see the latest happenings and read all the details.

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One: Unexpected

DEVENIR, VASA, neomosaic, unexpected
Work in progress

Just when we think we have things under control the unexpected happens. A readjustment of priorities must take place and some choices made. This year the idea of choice really took root in me as I adjusted to the demands. I have found waiting for paint to dry invaluable as time spent on meeting expectations.

Obligers meet the unexpected

Obliger Tendency, unexpected obligations, outside accountability

As an Obliger, meeting other’s expectations is something I do naturally. Meeting my own is a different matter and not so easily accomplished. With the help of the book “The Four Tendencies” by Gretchen Rubin, I understand how to circumvent my own tendency by asking for help from an outside source. Unfortunately, asking for help is another action listed among the forbidden from my childhood. Fortunately, I am an adult on occasion. While the unexpected happens often, if the source is outside of me, it is usually easily accommodated.

Unexpected hanging space

unexpected, lack of storage space, opportunities,
“Broken/brisé” neomosaic/mixedmedia on 30x30in gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

Since my painting pace has accelerated during the last year, my inventory has grown. Recently I noticed two calls for submissions, one for Deep Freeze and the other for Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. Putting in the submissions had an ulterior motive: lack of storage space. Thankfully, the unexpected came through as both venues agreed to show my paintings over the next few weeks and months.

International opportunity

unexpected, international show, works on paper, abstract, mixed media
“Life is Complicated/La vie est complexe” mixed media on A4 Arches $326.00

Another surprise came in the form of a world-wide call for any creative effort on an A4 sheet of paper. Loving the challenge and the possibility of showing in Paris, France, I cut a piece of Arches hot press to size and submitted “Life is Complicated” complete with poem. Following this adventure, a second call for submissions came through in December for an artist residency in Scotland. I have been looking at this one for some time. Should the unexpected happen and my submission succeed, I will rearrange my routine to be there for three months.

DEVENIR in VASA

unexpected, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Almost finished “Autumn Doubloons/pièces d’or” neomosaic/mixedmedia on 30x30in gallery wrap canvas $1620.00

While keeping pace with my self-imposed deadline for the DEVENIR March show at VASA, one could ask why both with a submission for which I have little hope. Three reasons spring to mind. The first is putting a submission together for something unusual is great practice. Second, the requirements force me to clarify my thinking. Third, hope reigns supreme and the unexpected does occur.

Best wishes

All in all, it has been a great start to the new year. Wishing you a wonderful 2020. May you enjoy abundant blessings of peace, good health, joy and prosperity.

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One: Doubloons

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Declared done.

People have long valued gold as a means of trade. Doubloons were common until the mid-nineteenth century. Paper and metals of lesser value replaced them. Now we have plastic bills. We may render them redundant with virtual money. Disturbing in some respects.

Doubloons were made of gold

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
The first doubloons in paint.

Governments still use gold as a guarantee although we may question how true that is. Hidden away in vaults protected by the latest security devices, we humble folk see little of it. Thankfully, the kind of gold I value is available to everyone. Especially in fall. Doubloons tumble in abundance from aspen and poplar, lining pathways and collecting in backwaters.

Doubloons cover the ground in fall

Fall is my favorite season. Mostly I love the colour as the yellow hues tone the air with a golden majesty. Also the contrast against the ever deep green of pine or spruce takes my breath away. Stumbling along a creek bed I discovered some doubloons tucked among the rocks, treasure to be sure. The patterns warmed my heart and made my soul sing.

No doubloons, gold yes!

Gold is part of my repertoire. Lately, I have been using copper as well. Mostly on another project, I decided to vary the leaf colour with copper and save the gold for the trinity of circles at the end. Some of the leaf doubloons were painted gold as well. I have three different varieties of gold paint. Paint is easy. Metal leaf requires a bit of patience.

Applying gold requires patience

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Fixing some doubloons.

As a result of many attempts using gold leaf, I have found I must wait while the glue dries overnight before I attempt any refining. Fortunately, copper is not as thin as gold and therefore more easily applied. I can actually hold it between my fingers. Once I removed the excess, I discovered a few doubloons needed additional coverage so I reapplied some metal. Scraps are excellent for this application.

Done is not quite done

I declared the paintings done on my Instagram account. Not quite. I have a sheet of about twelve items listed, so I do not forget anything, waiting to be completed. Because I need eight paintings done by March 1st (another show at VASA) I am pressing ahead with other canvases while I finish up my doubloons.

Worth more than doubloons

doubloons, neomosaic painting, semi-abstract landscape, mixed media
Not quite satisfied.

Do check out my events page for the upcoming shows over the first three months of the coming year. Since time is of the essence these days, I will be taking a break over Christmas. Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas. May 2020 be kind, fruitful and filled with gifts worth more than doubloons: health, peace and joy.

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One: Opportunities

opportunities, greeting cards, Merry Christmas
Christmas Card 2019

Just when I think it will be a quiet year, opportunities abound. My work will be showing at various locations throughout the first three months of the New Year. All is conceived if not complete. I still have the ten paintings to do before March 1st. Two are well on their way.

Opportunities teach

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 1 making progress

Recently, other opportunities have given me insight into my process and what makes me happy or unhappy. Every artist is unique. Flow happens more easily when we discover our personally preferred method. Testing out various systems sheds light on the mystery within. Being a reformed night owl, I find myself working later and later on the computer these days. This does not bode well for early morning rising. I have yet to find an efficient way to deal with paperwork.

Limiting opportunities

opportunities, neomosaic, semiabstract landscape, mixed media
Autumn Doubloons 2 also making progress

In my studio, however, the muse is amused. While not allowing myself to panic with regard to impossible deadlines, I have chosen a very inspiring and pleasant path of creativity. From the many opportunities, my choice is restricted to about three or four different centers of interest. Among my pressing obligations, I find taking a break instead of pursuing one subject relentlessly helps me focus longer and with more clarity. At the moment I divide my attention between the ten paintings for March, the Christmas cards for Christmas, and the “Urban” painting for Tuesday.

Abundant choice

DDK, throwing paint, abstract landscape
Throwing paint for Urban

Once the cards are complete (out of my studio yet not necessarily sent) I will add another project. Perhaps some more 8x8in daily paintings or the design for next year’s Christmas card, or some all occasion cards.  All linocuts for the cards. Perhaps it is the shift within the opportunities that renews my spirit. Linocuts require quite a different thought process than neomosaic. Throwing paint and contrasting geometric with organic phenomenon pulls me in a different direction as well. I get excited just thinking about it.

Coming events

Do check out my events page so you might choose from the various opportunities to take a look at my work. With all the local venues, one may be more convenient than another. Don’t forget the shows finishing soon in December as well.

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